Dog Bone Danger

Dog Bone Danger

Veterinarian Warns of Potential Hazards

Dogs and bones seem like a natural combination, but they’re not, warns Karen “Doc” Halligan, DVM.

Doc Halligan, a sought-after pet health expert, wants to educate pet owners about the potential, life-threatening dangers of feeding dogs bones.

Bones Can Harm Your Dog

Dogs can spend hours chewing on a bone in a happy bliss and contentment, but there have been many emergency trips to the veterinarian because a dog has choked on a bone, or bone fragments have become lodged in an intestine.

“All veterinary experts agree,” says Halligan, “that there are potential hazards to feeding bones to dogs: broken teeth, fragments lodged in the mouth, intestinal obstruction and even perforation — which can lead to painful abdominal infection.”

This can result in hospitalization with major surgery that can be very expensive. In the worst cases, warns Halligan, it can even be fatal.

Bones Have Hidden Dangers


Natural bones, whether raw or cooked, can present potential health hazards.

Cooking bones in an oven hardens and dries the bone matrix, allowing the bone to splinter while chewing it into sharp pieces that can injure a dog’s intestinal tract. But even raw or uncooked bones can be dangerous as well.

“Raw meat and bones can harbor bacteria such as salmonella and e coli,” explains Halligan, “which can be transmitted to humans, causing vomiting, diarrhea and even organ failure.”

Is There a Safe Bone for Dogs?

Dogs that are used to eating bones can have problems under certain circumstances, says Halligan. “Bones that are described as ‘safe’ can injure an individual animal and there is no way to predict whether your dog will have a problem.”


According to Halligan, there’s not one bone out there that is completely safe in any given circumstance. She recommends pet owners talk with their veterinarians about finding a safer way to feed their dogs a balanced diet, protect their teeth and keep them happy and healthy.

“Although dogs love bones,” insists Halligan, “it’s not worth the risk to your pet’s life to give him something that is possibly unsafe.”

Learn more about pet food dangers and foreign body ingestion.

The director of Veterinary Services at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Los Angeles (spcaLA), Karen "Doc" Halligan also has a distinguished veterinary medical career. She is the author of the award-winning book "Doc Halligan's What Every Pet Owner Should Know: Prescriptions for Happy, Healthy Cats and Dogs" and is a sought-after pet health expert. Doc Halligan was a featured media spokesperson during the pet-food recall crisis, and is a regular contributor to PARADE magazine. She is also considered an expert in animal-cruelty cases, regularly testifying for law enforcement to help win judgments against animal abusers.